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American Exceptionalism: Leadership, Freedom, Truth, and Limited Representational Government

by | Jul 28, 2022

Contributor Frank Hill

With America’s 246th birthday on Monday, PC Contributor and board member Frank Hill has recently published two timely articles highlighting American exceptionalism. He offers us lessons from the American Experiment to think about as we approach our 250th anniversary in 2026.

What has made America truly great? It is obvious to the world that America is strong, prosperous, and unique.

Well, Frank’s view is that much of it comes down to leadership, freedom, truth, and limited representational government. He talks about leadership in the clip above, and we agree with him that America in the late 1700’s could not have had more exceptional Founders.

We are blessed to have such remarkable Founders and to own a historical beginning that, while far from perfect, was by any standard truly good relative to the times. Our beginning contrasts starkly with murderous binges that corrupted the French, Russian, Chinese, and other more recent “new beginnings” across the world.

To place American exceptionalism in proper perspective, we need to continue to compare America to Europe and the rest of the world today. Frank does this in his short articles reprinted below. It is obvious how truly fortunate we are. America remains on a good track, in spite of our serious, seemingly growing political divisions.

We have been down this road many times before in more serious ways. We can do this and have staying power.

Of course, we do not endorse unbridled, anarchical, morally relativistic freedom that allows people to do whatever they please (which would, in time, actually lead to America’s demise). We do not endorse “individualism.”

Instead, we do endorse the liberty to freely think, speak, and act as responsible citizens and to the glory of God, without heavy-handed government interference possible or needed. It’s up to us as citizens.

While America has boldly protected these freedoms for hundreds of years, Frank Hill reminds us that we are always in danger of taking them for granted–Cancel Culture driven by CRT and Wokeism is consuming a nation once founded on freedom of thought; a people that once declared “taxation without representation is tyranny” now flirts with moving ever closer to a financial slavery known euphemistically as “democratic socialism.”

Such movements go beyond our Founding vision and Constitution toward unlimited, dominating central government. In the fullness of time, such governments are inherently elitist (undemocratic) and have all proven failures everywhere tried in the fullness of time.

As Frank shares in his video clip above, we need true leadership at the “lowest levels” to keep our nation great. We should strive to be as dedicated to the future of America as our Founders. Their bravery and talent still inspire the world. The world might never see another group like them.

July 4 starts with us and free thought, the absolute pre-condition to truth.

(Both articles below reprinted with permission from The North State Journal.)


 

“HILL: Free thought and competition of ideas”

6/22/22

 

This is a rare first printing of the Declaration of Independence displayed at Sotheby’s auction house in Boston Tuesday, May 23, 2000, where they announced it will be offered for sale online June 29th. According to Sotheby’s, this page is one of the three finest copies of 25 surviving official first printings of the Declaration of Independence and is expected to fetch $4-6 million. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

 

Freedom of expression and competition among a very few extraordinary people are at the heart of major advancements in human history.  When both are allowed to flourish, everyone benefits. When either one, or both, are suppressed in any way for any individual, we all suffer the consequences. 

 

I have always been amazed that a handful of extraordinarily smart and educated American colonists, about 55 or so, “just happened” to be alive at the same time in history. They “just happened” to have similar educations to be able to concoct two of the greatest civic documents in world history, the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution in eleven years, 1776 to 1787. 

 

They fought like cats and dogs over those ideas. Aaron Burr killed Alexander Hamilton, remember?

 

Was it pure luck? Providence? Why didn’t it happen earlier in mankind’s history? Why did American freedom happen over the span of about fifty years in the latter part of the 18th century and not in, say, China under the Ming Dynasty or in Egypt under the Pharaohs? 

 

It didn’t “just happen.” The American Democratic Republican Experiment still unfolding was founded upon two epochal periods of free thought and competition of ideas long ago. It can be snuffed out in a moment if Americans allow progressive socialist Democrats on the left to close free and open debate as tyrants did in the past. 

 

From the middle of the fourth century B.C. to the third, a small number of curious, free-thinking intellectuals “just happened” to be alive in ancient Athens who thought broadly and deeply about life in general. Socrates, a man not of noble birth, gained notoriety for his penetrating inquiries and thoughts into the nature of what constituted a virtuous life. 

 

His pupil, Plato and later disciple, Aristotle left behind books on politics, ethics and philosophy that still shape young minds of students wherever schools allow them to be taught nowadays. 

 

The Greeks had thrown off tyrannical dictatorial rule so they could live in an environment which encouraged free thought, an intense curiosity and discussion, not cancellation or banishment. The Greeks were seekers of truth, the very definition of philosophy.  

 

In one of the saddest quirks of history, Socrates was the only person to be sentenced to death in Athens for freely expressing his views. A short reign of tyrannical rule returned to Athens in 399 BC and he was convicted of corrupting the youth of Athens. 

 

His crime? He told them there was a monotheistic God as opposed to the myriad of Greek gods Athenians had long worshiped.  

 

The greatest philosophical mind in human history was silenced by a group of prejudiced, small-minded people who did not like his views on religion.  

 

What a tragic tradeoff. It could be happening today in America. 

 

In Florence, Italy eighteen centuries later, architect Filippo Brunelleschi went to Rome to dig through the ruins of the once pre-eminent Roman Empire to discover how they built such magnificent temples with domes. With architectural and artistic discoveries brought back by other Florentines, Florence became the intellectual and culture cauldron of innovation for the next century.  

 

Brunelleschi literally and figuratively fought with church authorities and his architect competition. The artists, inventors and writers who came after him also fought and disagreed with their competitors ― Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, Galileo and Dante Alighieri of “The Divine Comedy/Inferno” fame.  

 

Michelangelo at a young age suffered a broken nose when a fellow student, jealous of his enormous talent, punched him in the face when Michelangelo would not stop teasing him, most likely criticizing his lesser work. True artists can be temperamental. 

 

Galileo was eventually brought to trial by Catholic Church authorities for saying the sun was the center of the universe, not the earth. He was threatened with being burned at the stake if he didn’t recant. He recanted. However, his writings were already circulating in the public and open-minded smart people saw the truth in his discoveries and forced the Catholic Church to recant their position. 

 

Competition, curiosity and free expression made the Florentines great. None of them were held back by school systems in the hopes of equity of outcome. All of them had mentors and teachers who pushed them to great achievement and excellence. 

 

Free speech and competition of ideas are the lifeblood of American exceptionalism. If we lose them to the thought police on the left, America will one day wind up as a blip in the history books beside ancient Athens and the Italian Renaissance in Florence long ago.


As introduction to Frank’s next article, we would only highlight that the Founders recognized that taxation without representation is tyranny. They often stated this leading up the 1776. In successive generations, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, and Frederick Douglas highlighted this theme. In addition, all three – British philosopher, American Founder, and former slave also recognized that overtaxation is the very definition slavery.

Foundational to freedom is owning and controlling the product of ones labor and private property. Every enslaved person prior to the Civil War knew this. This was obvious in Biblical times. And of course, taxation can occur directly or indirectly (through increasing government debt and inflation), with the taxpayer and future generations on the hook, nonetheless.

Let’s not let self-interested politicians take us down the road to slavery again. Our ancestors gave everything to provide the freedoms we take for granted today. It’s our duty to honor them in wisdom and truth.


 

“Want to Love America? Go to Europe”

6/15/22

 

A statue of Pope John Paul II is seen in front of the main entrance of the Agostino Gemelli hospital, where Pope Francis was hospitalized Sunday, in Rome, Friday, July 9, 2021. The Vatican says Pope Francis is walking, working and has celebrated Mass at a Rome hospital where he also will deliver his Sunday weekly blessing while recovering from intestinal surgery. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

 

Many young Americans are rose-colored glassy-eyed in love with European socialism.

 

They should go to Europe. They will come back loving America more than John Wayne and Ronald Reagan. 

 

My wife and I recently returned from a two-week tour of Italy which has been a lifelong dream. Italy is spectacular for many reasons, mostly its three-thousand-year history of wars; conflict; culture; architecture; art; wine and landscapes. Without the Italian Renaissance that erupted in Florence in the 15th century, the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome would have been lost forever. 

 

The same studio where Michelangelo learned to sculpt is still operational near the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence for goodness sakes. 

 

As to whether European democratic socialism is “better” than American democratic free market capitalism, as many young people believe, the answer depends on who is paying for it, of course. There are not enough fabulously rich people in Italy to pay for everything like progressive left-wingers in America want the Elon Musks of the world to do.  

 

In Italy, even the most modest of income-earners, those who “report” over 70,000 euros of income ― or roughly $80,000 per year ― pay an income tax of 55%.  I say “report” because much of Italian business transactions are done in cash and not reported as income. The black market thrives in Italy. 

 

This is on top of a VAT (value-added tax) on every purchase that ranges from 11% to 27%. An American really doesn’t know how much it is until the transaction is complete. 

 

This is on top of a property tax if someone is fortunate enough to own a small piece of a larger building, a condo in effect. One host had his property tax increased not just 10% last year but 10 times from 500 florins to 5400 florins because of an arbitrary ruling based on the discovery of one teeny-tiny bathroom a tax inspector found in the home his family has owned since 1872.  

 

On top of all that taxation, the cost of gasoline in Italy was 2 euros per litre ― which sounds pretty good until an American does the math and finds out that there are 3.5 litres to a US gallon.  The price of gas in Italy is $7.50/gallon compared to the “sky-high” average of $4.69/gallon in the US today. 

 

Progressive Democrats believe high gas prices will force everyone to buy an electric vehicle overnight. Europe has had exorbitantly high gas prices for 30 years.  Only 1% of all European vehicles are plug-in electric today. 

 

It isn’t happening. 

 

Italy, as in most European nations, does have universal medical care which sounds great on the face of it. But is universal health care really “universal” if you can’t get it when you need it?  

 

My wife had a sinus infection so we looked for a doctor to help. The Farmacia near our place in Florence sent us to a Farmicia at one corner of the Plaza del Fiore who sent us to the Misericordia at the other end of the plaza where we found out, much to our American chagrin, that “the physician has left (at 5:00 p.m.) and won’t be back until 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning ―but you can walk (halfway across Florence) to find another Misericordia” which we declined to do. 

 

We searched for a Tylenol PM to help get some sleep only to be informed that we needed a prescription for such a medication in Italy. So, no antibiotics or sleep for us that night. 

 

As to COVID relief, no one in Italy got any income assistance. One mask-maker said he only survived by drawing down savings and help from his parents. “Democratic Socialism” can only be stretched so thin before it runs out of money. 

 

Europe and Italy are great places to visit and vacation, don’t get me wrong. If the dollar appreciates by 50% versus the euro, Americans can go to Europe for half-price one day in the future. 

 

But America is America and Europe is Europe. Turning America into Europe West would be a huge mistake because progressives are not telling the whole story about democratic socialism.


Happy Birthday America, and have a great 4th of July Weekend! 🇺🇸

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